Easter Sunday – and we are reminded yet again, that Christians do not follow a dead hero, but a living Saviour.
Perhaps you have never really given the resurrection of the Lord Jesus any serious thought. Maybe dismissed it as a slightly ridiculous religious tradition – after all no-one ever comes back from death, do they? Well, you wouldn’t be alone in thinking that – but the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central and vital truth of Christianity. Take this one truth away and everything else falls, or at the best becomes a ridiculous religious tradition!
The Apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament part of the Bible knew how vital this message was. Writing to Christians in Greece he said,
If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.I Corinthians 15:17-19
In Paul’s mind, the message of the resurrection was so pivotal that if this one fact were removed, the whole of the Christian gospel was nonsense. Why did he think that?
Firstly, Paul knew that death is a consequence of sin. If the Lord Jesus was claimed by death then He too must have been a sinner and could not have been a sacrifice for sin as the Bible had prophesied and as He had claimed He would be.
Secondly, the Lord Jesus had claimed to personally be the resurrection and the life. He had promised to come back for every individual who believed in Him, dead or alive. If He Himself could not overcome death then His first claim was false and His promises empty.
Finally, Paul and over 500 others claimed to be eye-witnesses to a resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. These are the founding fathers of Christianity. The ones who took the gospel out from Jerusalem to reach almost the whole of the known world by the end of the first century. Many of them died as martyrs for this claim. If these men were deluded or telling a blatant lie, then the whole of Christianity is founded upon falsehood.
Thankfully, Paul is able to rebut all such thoughts with a triumphant response,
But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. I Corinthians 15:20
People in the first century were no more gullible than people now. They knew then, as well as we do, that dead people do not come back out of their grave! But that is the whole point of the Easter story. The Lord Jesus Christ is the exception to the whole of history. The one man who could and who has overcome death. And because He is alive, we can have hope for the future. Christianity is not founded upon a lie, it is founded upon the most astonishing truth – that the Son of God personally took responsibility for the sins of the world and in His death, burial and resurrection, we can receive eternal life. Here is one final statement from the Apostle Paul – getting a personal hold of this would change your life and your destiny for eternity,
If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 10:9